'Bomber' battled above his weight for The Pembrokeshire Scarlets

Richard with Claire and baby Ava


Richard Morris played his rugby for over 20 years as a tough as teak prop with Pembroke RFC and throughout that long career answered to the nickname of ‘Bomber’.
So we had to ask him how he acquired that name and he told us with a chuckle,

“When we were kids and had wrestling contests on the grass I would always win because of the farm work I did even as a ten year old and one of the popular TV programmes was ‘Auf Wiedersen Pet’ where there was a very strong feller with that nickname – and when it was handed to me almost 40 years ago it stuck – and even some of my family still call me it. But not mum and dad!

Started out at Pembroke School – and then successful youth at Crickmarren

Richard started out his rugby playing at Pembroke School where his teacher, Dennis Day, told him in a games lesson that he was doing well and should try to play for the school’s team for his age group.
“I suppose I played prop from the outset because I was big and strong for my age after helping do jobs on the family farm in Hundleton but initially I played as tight head.
And that is where he stayed throughout his career, starting off outside school where he joined his pal Peter Doyle in going up to Crickmarren and starting out with Pembroke RFC’s youth team.

“I was always well looked after by the likes of Elwyn Smith and Michael Webb and learned a lot as first team prop Richard ‘Badger’ Johns took me under his and suggested I switch to the loose head and everything clicked into place because it is surprising how different the two positions are– and because I started out so early I actually had four good years of youth rugby.

Four years in youth, starting with a cup final win – and then disappointment

“I was in a good team that included Rob Appleyard (who went on to play for Wales as a flanker), Neil Humphreys, Darren Williams, Stu Palmer, Matthew Smith-Wrench and Paul ‘Spooner’ Williams as skipper - and in that first season we won the Pembrokeshire Youth Cup by beating a strong Tenby United team at Narberth.
“We continued that good form in the next season as we beat everyone in the county before the youth cup ended on a disappointing note as we played Cardigan at home in the semi-final but we lost narrowly, after dominating the match by failing to take our chances.”

Finishing up by raising the silverware aloft

After an average third campaign ‘Bomber’ was honoured with the captaincy for his final season and again they won the Youth Cup.

“Now that is what us front rowers would call a proper game of rugby,” said Richard with a chuckle, “because we beat Llangwm 6-3 at Haverfordwest and I was delighted to be presented with the cup as our reward.
“It was doubly pleasing because we had already lost three times to The Wasps in that season and went in as rank outsiders with the likes of Darren Gilbert, Steve Mitchell and Simon Tucker I’m not sure because of the game’s pure excitement factor!

More success at county youth level

“There was an added bonus because a few of us were selected to play for the county under Bobby Simons (Narberth), who brought in Peter Elsom from Carmarthen to coach us forwards.
“At our first session he asked us all in the pack what we did in work and was delighted that we were all farmers or builders as I was joined by Romeo Colella, Darrell Williams and Chris Thomas in the squad for the front row, with other quality players like Stuart Palmer, Craig Thomas, Dylan Evans, Neil Humphreys, Dean Hadley and Martin ‘Ted’ Tamilia as captain.
“Justin Arnold was the tallest outside half I’ve ever seen (he was taller than all our pack, with Gruff Jones at No 9, and we reached the final at Waterton Cross, the home of South Wales Police RFC, and caused a big upset as we beat hot favourites Rhondda and District. I remember that Neil ‘Hunchie’ Humphreys scored the winning try as we claimed the trophy for the first time in 25 years!

Representation for the Welsh President’s XV

“Bomber’ would be quick to play down his key role upfront against a huge opposition pack but he must have impressed because he soon learned that he selected for trials with the Welsh Youth team.
“Michael Webb, who did so much good work for Pembroke, went with me and my father to matches and although I didn’t get picked for internationals I was chosen to play three times for the Welsh President’s XV which played clubs across Wales celebrating something at their club.
“So I played at Hendy, Pontypool and Fleur de Lys, which totally confused dad because he thought we were off to play in France!”

Captained county youth but just missed out on more silverware

“In my final season of youth rugby I also captained the county team and we reached the semi-final stage before just missing out to our old rivals from The Rhondda as we played them in Aberystwyth and lost 10-9 to a last-minute penalty.
“We had played Pembroke under 20s the week before to get some practice and played well but losing seven days later by such a narrow margin was a sickener!

Great fun with South Pembs Young Farmers

Perhaps because of his work it was clear that he would always enjoy a real involvement with Young Farmers and part of that was taking part with South Pembs in the National Young Farmers’ Sevens at Builth Wells.
“I think I was picked for my blistering pace,” said Richard with his tongue firmly tucked in his cheek but with Simon Davies, who went on to become a great captain of Narberth RFC, as our skipper we won through to the final at the Royal Welsh Show before losing to a President’s Select team which was packed with players already involved at a high level.
“I also competed in the Tug of War competitions at Builth Wales, where we came third, but I have to say that just being involved in all that the Young Farmers did was great fun!”

Richard captain of Pembroke RFC

Family matters . . .

As far as family are concerned, Richard would say that his wife Claire, who was a useful swimmer in her younger days, has always given him total support in his rugby – and the couple now have a lovely baby daughter Ava (2) who keeps them busy.

“When I was younger it was the same with my parents, Bill and Ann, who have the farm near Hundleton where Richard now works, although dad always found time to watch almost all the matches.

“Then there’s my sisters Michelle and Kirsty, plus brother Paul, who played a bit of rugby with Pembroke Dock Quins, although dad and I are convinced he just went there to wind us up!”

Other sports

Outside of his rugby, Richard did play a bit of cricket for the nearby village team of Hundleton up to the Ormond Youth Cup competition but readily admits that his major role was as a fielder who could fling the ball in from the boundary with some force.
“I played alongside the likes of Paul Fox and John Webster but to be honest I was already involved up at Crickmarren and we were so busy on the farm that I didn’t have time for fielding out on a Saturday afternoon throughout the busy summer months – but I wasn’t a great loss to Hundleton Cricket anyway!”

Under 21’s – another tussle with the old enemy

Another final came Richard’s way with the County under 21 team as almost the same team at youth level took on their friends from Rhondda and District in the final at St Helens, in Swansea.
He recalls that the opposition were huge and as a prop that at 5’8” and 14 and a half stone was a little on the small side had a front-row opponent who must have been four inches taller and three stone heavier!
“But I managed to get underneath him at most scrums and wore him down as we eventually beat them again, with Romeo (Colella) and ‘Hunchie’ (Neil Humphreys) playing starring roles.

Pembrokeshire Youth squad who won the Welsh Youth Cup

Senior selection – and a long stay in the first XV

“When I came out of youth rugby I managed to secure a first team place straight away because Dai Balkwill had just joined Tenby United – and I was lucky to have flanker Richard Jelley as my self-appointed ‘minder’ if things got rough.
“We were coached by Gethin Evans, who did a great job, with Steven Jenkins (ex-Army) doing great work in fitness and also had Peter Kidney from Tenby in the second row - and he was another great help in more ways than one;  with Sandy ‘Clunes’ Allen and Simon Edwards as other good forwards.
“There were some great local derbies against The Quins and their prop Richard McIntyre and I had some ding-dong battles – but always had a pint together afterwards. In one tussle at Bierspool tempers brewed over on the bottom touchline and there was a huge punch up which was so bad that even my dad got involved in pulling people off us.
“He managed to engage in a real war of words with one of their most experienced forwards and as he walked into the bar afterwards it was with some trepidation as their paths again crossed on the way in – but he was really pleased when the much bigger, and younger, Quins’ man came over to apologise!”

And finally . . .

‘Bomber’ was lucky to enjoy his fair share of success, especially in his younger days, before he eventually retired when he was almost 40 – and another lasting memory is the fact that in 2003 he was honoured with the first team captaincy and they won their section of the local league to gain promotion to the first division.
“I was also lucky to make loads of friendships with some of the stalwarts of the club, like Brian and John Colley, Eifion Powell, JR Jones, Geoff Hill, Dai Williams and the Lewis brothers, Morgan, Eddie and Ivor.
“Since I stepped down I have tried to watch games whenever the farm allows and of course I miss playing – but I still am proud to be a Pembroke player and am very grateful to everyone at Crickmarren who made it so enjoyable!

Richard celebrating the county youth winning the Welsh Youth Cup with Neil Humphreys and Daryl Williams